Schenectady County

Attention Crossgates shoppers: Drive safely this holiday season

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and police are making their annual plea to motorist

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and police are making their annual plea to motorists to slow down and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them, especially on the notorious southbound ramp to Crossgates Mall from Interstate 87.

Collisions, especially rear-end ones, have become common since that ramp became a prime entrance to the mall.

Police along with the state Department of Transportation started to focus on the area about 11 years ago. They’ve taken many measures such as installing variable message signs to warn motorists of delays, assigning patrol cars, decreasing the speed limit and issuing media advisories before Thanksgiving.

The blitz is paying off.

The number of accidents continues to go down in that area, which is why the DOT continues the partnership and each year highlights the beginning of the holiday season, said DOT spokesman Peter Van Keuren.

DOT starting recording the number of accidents in 1994 and for the first few years it rose, reaching about 150 crashes in 2000.

It declined to 46 accidents in 2006 and 35 in 2007.

Each year officials also target a specific problem — whether it’s cellphones or excessive speed. This year’s message from state police and the DOT to motorists is: Don’t tailgate.

Van Keuren said, “When you follow too closely, something can happen in a split second.”

They also suggest using alternative routes into Crossgates Mall, including Route 20 and the entrance off Washington Avenue Extension. State police Capt. Ronald Tritto said each year there are new drivers not accustomed to driving in heavy traffic near the mall and two major reasons for accidents are speed and inattention.

Van Keuren said, “The improved signage and increased police presence has led to the decrease in accidents.”

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